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Is Kettlebell Swings Cardio

Touted as the perfect exercise, kettlebellswings provide a full-body workout while burning massive calories. This explosive movement engages nearly every muscle, including the glutes, hamstrings, adductors, quads and calves.

author
Maria Johnson
• Wednesday, 28 October, 2020
• 21 min read
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Due to its explosive nature, the kettle bell swing is ideal for both cardio and resistance training. The key is to use proper form and avoid common mistakes, such as bending your knees excessively.

This compound movement hits multiple muscles and joints, leading to greater strength and power. The initial phase of the swing engages your back muscles, namely the erector spinal and latissimus Doris.

The core muscles come into play at the halfway point, while your glutes are activated during the second phase of the movement. Over time, the kettle bell swing boosts posterior chain power development and physical performance.

This total body movement is intense and fast-paced, which helps increase your heart rate and energy expenditure. How many calories you'll burn depends on a number of factors, such as your weight, training style and the size of your kettle bell.

According to the American Council on Exercise, the average person following a standard kettle bell training program will burn approximately 20 calories per minute. Additionally, your growth hormone and testosterone levels will go up, which further increases your metabolic rate and energy expenditure.

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On top of that, it's safer for your back compared to the squat, dead lift, good mornings and other traditional posterior chain exercises. This article will discuss running and kettle bell swings as a means of weight loss for beginners which is the most common scenario.

Generally the question “Can kettle bell swings replace cardio has to be answered with no as there is a lack of context. Ask yourself the question if you want to kettle bell swing or do cardio as both of them are just a means to an end.

Kettle bell swings are often discussed as an alternative to the ever so dreaded running or jogging. Quantify them, break them down over months and have a look at how much time you are willing and able to invest to reach these goals.

After getting random nose bleeds from high blood pressure once to twice a week my wife said she would leave me if I did not do anything about my health and fat body. I wanted to stay strong while running and got two 14 kg kettle bells from my wife for my birthday in October 2013.

I and kettle bells parted ways from 2014 to 2017 when I picked them up again as a warm up to my Juggernaut method training. The most common context for beginners is that they are searching for the best way to keep fit with the least amount of hassle, money and time invested.

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This leads to a bit of a belly and being out of breath when chasing the kids around the playground on the weekend. In addition, you might even want to look a bit more attractive for your spouse or potential partners you meet at social gatherings.

Kettle bells leave less room for excuses based on weather, not having the right gear or having to go to the gym. To ensure good form and execution read Simple and Sinister from Pavel Tsatsoulin and get yourself assessed by a Strong first certified professional.

On the other hand, if you are an outdoor person and like to socialize the better route for you to travel is to join a local running club. Based on my experience bringing someone who is not on your level, is your spouse or worse, both, will lead to unnecessary tension at home.

Others might want to cut some minutes and seconds of their established long distance times. In my personal case I found that strength training decreased my risk of injury when I ran.

If you eat 5 Mars bars a day, drink one bottle of Coca-Cola and smoke a packet of cigarettes and then go out for a walk around the block and pat yourself on the back you are misguided. Of course, getting out at all is better than doing nothing but with this kind of intake you have to work ten times harder to get results as someone who does not shoot himself/herself in the foot on a daily basis.

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After a month of half the intake cut out one of the three (I recommend the cigarettes, my mother died of lung cancer aged 52. After another month cut out the next thing (I recommend replacing Coca-Cola with water).

I cut out all of my alcohol intakes in 2013 in preparation for the marathon after living in a bachelor pad where Guinness was always readily available from the fridge. No surprise, that this experience is not pleasant and you say “F*** this, can I do kettle bell swings instead or glue some electrodes to my body while I watch the Superbowl”.

Once reached continue running at a slower pace which lets you recover and repeat the process. Kettle bell swings are another method to lose unwanted pounds and stay fit.

As long as you do not want to build your resume as a marathon runner or triathlon competitor kettle bells can replace running and might even be the better overall exercise for weight loss for beginners with limited time. I think treadmills are as useless an invention as wireless cables (which have actually been sold on eBay...) or alcohol-free beer.

If you want to dig deeper into why I think that for the target group who usually poses the question “Can kettle bell swings replace cardio it does not really matter which of the two is picked read the book the first twenty minutes. It provides good insight on why it matters that you do something for twenty minutes in terms of exercise (but not what) and that the return on investment quickly diminishes outside this window for average Joe's/Jane's.

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The technical debate among professionals mainly circles around two studies which have been conducted in 2010 and 2013 lead by exercise scientist John Forward of the University of Wisconsin-La Cross. Here kettle bell swings were used with inexperienced subjects who gained in strength as well as cardiovascular capabilities which were unexpected.

Most online articles will reference one or both of these studies to support the cardiovascular benefits of kettle bell swings when compared to running. The general question “Can kettle bell swings replace cardio has to be answered with no as it is too broad.

Today I’d like to help answer a question I’ve been getting asked a lot recently, Are Kettle bell Workouts Cardio or Strength? All activities that keep the heart rate elevated and make you breathe hard for long periods of time.

Strength based exercise involves developing the muscular system so you can jump higher, run faster, punch harder, lift heavier etc. However, if you use a challenging weight and put together a selection of kettle bell exercises into a circuit then you will raise your heart rate and keep it elevated for a long period of time.

A kettle bell circuit like the one above will not only build strength but also keep the heart rate elevated making it a cardio workout too. Here’s a video showing how kettle bell exercises can flow keeping your heart rate elevated for great cardio :

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Kettle bell workouts are inherently strength based because you are lifting a weight that challenges the muscular system. As most kettle bell exercises involve the use of hundreds of muscles at a time they require a great deal of energy produced by the heart and lungs.

It is due to this fact that kettle bell training is becoming more and more popular as a tool for saving time while generating some great results. If your cardio routine is feeling stale, you may want to ditch the treadmill and grab some kettle bells instead.

Since most of us are familiar with the kettle bell swing, we asked Finn for some additional moves to get your heart rate up and build strength (because who doesn’t love an efficient workout? Finn recommends training with competition-style kettle bells (prices vary, available on amazon.com) like the ones featured here.

For experienced kettle bell users, a good starting weight is whatever you would use for a single-hand swing, according to Finn. “With ballistic movements such as snatches and cleans, it’s hard to think about the action while you’re doing it,” Finn says.

How to use this list : Warm up by foam rolling and performing a few dynamic exercises (found here). Or scroll to the bottom of the article to check out the Deep 6 workout Finn put together for us.

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For a cardio burn, perform as much reps as possible as fast as you can without compromising your form. For a strength-focused workout, perform each exercise with the heaviest kettle bell you can manage without compromising form.

At the top of the clean, your wrist should be rotated, so the palm faces in to midline of the body (point your thumb at your shoulder). Perform 10 to 20 reps and repeat on other side. Make it easier: Start with a lighter kettle bell to master the movement.

Once you’ve perfected it, increase the weight. Make it harder: Add a second kettle bell and perform the clean with both arms at the same time. Drive fist up and straighten elbow to press the weight overhead.

As you do this, your wrist should rotate, so palm faces forward at the top of the move. Keep chest lifted and lower to at least 90 degrees. Your back should stay straight through the entire movement.

Keeping your back straight, hinge at hips and slightly bend knees to grab the kettle bell with both hands. Engage your core, then bend at the waist to lower weight toward ankle.

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Check that back is straight and that you don’t lean to the left or backward as you perform this move. Stand tall and engage core as you move the bell to the right, behind your head, and to the left in a circular motion.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold the kettle bell by horns at chest height. Step right foot back and bend knees to 90 degrees to lower into a lunge.

Perform 10 to 20 reps and repeat on left leg. Make it harder: Hold a kettle bell in each hand by your sides. In one fluid motion, drive through your legs to swing the kettle bell up, flip grip (so palm is facing away and knuckles punch up), and press weight overhead.

Start standing and hold the kettle bell by horns at chest height. Extend right leg out in front of you, then sit hips back and bend left knee to lower down into a single-leg squat, keeping right foot off the floor.

Perform 5 to 10 reps and repeat on other side. Make it easier: Make your range of motion smaller by sitting back onto a box or bench. The Turkish get up is a complicated move, so you want to be comfortable with the basic technique before adding the kettle bell.

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“The idea is that the arm holding the kettle bell is directly up in the air the entire time, because if it’s not directly over your head and your skeleton isn’t taking the weight, the shoulder is placed in a compromising position,” he says. If you can get all the way up and back down without dropping the water bottle and losing alignment, you know you’re ready to try it with the kettle bell. Start lying face up.

Bend right knee and place right foot on floor and left arm straight out to the side. Extend right arm directly over shoulder and balance a half-filled water bottle on top of fist.

Lie face up with knees bent and two kettle bells racked at chest height. Lie face up with knees bent, feet on floor, holding the kettle bell on hips.

Start in a plank position, wrists under shoulders with each hand on a kettle bell, palms facing in, core engaged. Hey guys, I hope you’re having a great week and have some good things in the works for the rest of it.

Today I wanted to talk about a topic I’m vehemently passionate about — exercise form and safety! As a personal trainer, my utmost and number one concern for my clients is their health and safety.

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This, of course, covers a huge range of factors, but the one we’re going to talk about today is power exercises. That said, one thing that makes me cringe is seeing people doing — or promoting doing — more than 15 or 20 kettlebellswings in a row.

Performing more than 15 box jumps in a row is just asking for improper form at best, and a harmful accident at worst.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: power exercises like swings and box jumps get the heart rate up! However, I’m talking about either stringing two power exercises together with little to no breaks or completing one at high repetitions for a lengthy amount of time.

And I do incorporate swings and box jumps into my workouts for power and short bursts of conditioning. However, they’re either paired with a non-power movement, or have ample rest breaks implemented into the drill.

*if you don’t have at least 20 seconds rest before moving back to KB swings, decrease battling rope whips. Most kettle bell exercises use large multi-jointed movements which rely on hundreds of muscles being activated at a time.

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The more muscles that you use the greater the demands on the cardiovascular system as it produces oxygen to power the movement. Below I’ve listed 25 KB cardio workouts that will elevate your heart rate quickly starting with the most basic for beginners and finishing with the more complex.

These beginners cardio workouts will help you master the basics and provide you with a solid foundation for building upon. Kettle bell Single Arm Dead lift — Left x 30 seconds Kettle bell Single Arm Dead lift — Right x 30 seconds Repeat 2-4 times

The single arm dead lift programs the hip hinge movement which uses most muscles in the body but in particular the hamstrings, quads, glutes, core and back. All beginners should master this exercise before progressing onto the kettle bell swing for cardio, clean, and snatch.

The goblet squat is one of the most important full body kettle bell exercises. Ensure that you squat down so your thighs are at least parallel with the floor in order to fully activate your buttocks.

As well as being a huge kettlebellcardio exercise the goblet squat will also strengthen the legs, hips, buttocks, core and back muscles. Mixing the goblet squat with the single arm dead lift exercise produces a great full body kettlebellcardio circuit.

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Moving sideways targets different muscles in the legs and buttocks from the regular lunge or squat based exercises. Again adding in the single arm dead lift gives you a great combination workout hitting hundreds of muscles in the body.

The kettle bell sit and press creates mobility in the hips, conditions the core muscles and develops the shoulders. Actively moving from the kettle bell goblet squat and then down into the sit and press creates a peripheral heart action.

The heart has to work hard during this combination as the blood is shunted from the top squat position down to the lying sit and press exercise. The kettle bell clean is a full body exercise that many beginners find difficult to master.

Taking the time to get great at this kettle bell exercise is well worth the effort. Once you can perform the kettle bell clean well you can segue into so many other exercises from the racked position as you will see later.

Once you have mastered this exercise don’t be afraid to go heavy and really experience the cardio benefits this workout has to offer. I still remember performing this workout with a 32 kg on a rooftop in London and feeling the benefits for days afterwards.

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The racked reverse lunge focuses deep into the buttocks as well as being a huge cardio based exercise. Mastering the kettle bell swing will open up a whole new set of exercise choices as well as combinations.

Here we combine the full body two handed kettle bell swing with the push up exercise. Changing hands every rep really switches on the mind and makes the swings more challenging.

You get to practice all the kettle bell swing exercises with this KB cardio workout. You will get great rotation through the body for this exercise, working deep into the core muscles.

Care must be taken not to hit the front knee as the kettle bell comes across the body. The ability to flow will not only keep your heart rate elevated for longer but also add to the enjoyment of these kettlebellcardio workouts.

For this kettlebellcardio workout we add in the large full body exercise of the clean and press. The two handed squat and press is an excellent full body cardio exercise.

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For this kettlebellcardio workout we use 4 of the important movement patterns : lunge, squat, dead lift and press. Make sure that you do not cheat the squat movement and get your thighs down to at least parallel with the floor to activate your buttocks correctly.

Don’t rush through the lunge exercise and ensure your back knee gets as close to the floor as possible with every repetition. You should have mastered the two handed squat and press before advancing onto the kettle bell thruster.

Be sure to complete a full deep squat before driving up and using your momentum to press the kettle bell overhead. This demanding cardio workout will work your full body hard in 2 different directions.

The deeper the kettle bell side lunges are the more buttock and leg muscle activation achieved. For this kettlebellcardio workout we add in the kettle bell reverse lunge and press.

The kettle bell reverse lunge and press is a big full body movement that requires a huge amount of energy and thus makes it very cardiovascular. Try to keep your elbow up and wrist tight as you pull the kettle bell towards you.

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At the end of the workout you will have performed 110 kettlebellswings and 110 kettle bell high pulls. The kettle bell snatch is another full body exercise that will raise your heart rate quickly.

After a full circuit on both sides rest and repeat 2-4 times. I recommend that you practice the kettle bell exercises extensively before attempting any of these kettlebellcardio workouts fully.

Kettle bell Deck Squat x 5 reps Push Ups x as many as possible Rest and repeat 2-4 times It’s a full body kettle bell exercise that will certainly raise your heart rate.

You will need good hip mobility in order to perform the kettle bell deck squat. Use the momentum of the kettle bell in order to throw yourself back up.

Due to the huge amount of muscle activation and strength involved this kettle bell exercises is very cardiovascular. Using a resistance band, strap or Tax attached in front of you can be a great help when practicing the movement.

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Be careful as you fatigue during this workout and make sure to keep your chest up throughout. Kettle bell Side Stepping Swing x 60 seconds Rest and repeat 2-4 times

Kettle bell Clean, Squat and Press x 10 reps each side Kettle bell Reverse Lunge x 10 reps each side Rest and repeat 2-4 times I’ve also tried to include a variety of kettlebellcardio workouts for those from various different skills levels whether using the kettle bell swing or not.

As with all individual kettle bell workouts these do not constitute a formal training program. One study stated that 20 minutes of continuous kettle bell training was about the same as running at a six-minute mile pace.

Pick 3-5 full body exercises like the swing, thruster and lunge. If so, then you have everything you need for a full-body workout that'll burn plenty of calories and help you pile up glute, hamstring, and core strength, too.

Get ready for a cardio workout that takes place far from the treadmill or the track and prep for Kettle bell Swing Conditioning Hell, a fire-breathing workout that'll have your entire body gassed in less than 10 minutes from Men's Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. “But you can do it with any alternate load too, from a big water jug to a backpack filled with books, to a dumbbell.”

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And the constant alternating between those swing varieties means you're training from athletic stances too. “You're becoming explosive in ways that mirror the actions you might take on a sporting field of play.”

That's enough to ramp up your heart rate, says Samuel, and by the final sequence, your body will be at its limits. Shift your right foot back slightly, lifting your heel off the ground.

Shift your left foot back, lifting your heel off the ground. The best part of the Kettle bell Swing Conditioning Hell workout is that it can be used in so many situations.

Either way, you'll be smoking your entire posterior chain, building strength, challenging your lungs, and incinerating calories. For more tips and routines from Samuel, check out our full slate of Ex and Sole workouts.

If you want to try an even more dedicated routine, consider Ex's New Rules of Muscle program. Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men's Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience.

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This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. Recently, a number of athletes on the forum stated that kettlebellswings aren't cardio training.

That’s the versatility of the kettle bell : light, long sets with brief rest periods can mimic tempo runs that get the blood pumping for an extended period of time. Or an AGT protocol allows one to go heavy, stay fresh, and get strong.

Personal opinion incoming: There is cardio “, and other activities that have great cardiovascular benefit. This includes KB ballistics, 15-20 minute dynamic warm ups, circuits, complexes.... the list goes on.

Hell, raking grass for 25 minutes is going to have cardiovascular benefit. Society has decided that cardio refers exclusively to long duration, low intensity, etc.

Level 9 Valued Member Elite Certified Instructor The ACM Definition of Cardiovascular Exercise “Any sport or activity that works large groups of muscles, is continually maintained and performed rhythmically, is defined as an aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise by the American College of Sports Medicine.”

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Therefore, many definitions look for steady state activity that raises the heart rate such as walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, skiing, rowing... etc. SAS I think is better than running, because it gets my whole body involved and gets my heart pumping very hard!

The ACM Definition of Cardiovascular Exercise “Any sport or activity that works large groups of muscles, is continually maintained and performed rhythmically, is defined as an aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercise by the American College of Sports Medicine.” Therefore, many definitions look for steady state activity that raises the heart rate such as walking, swimming, jogging, cycling, skiing, rowing... etc.

When doing Group III activities, your cardiovascular benefit will depend on how hard you work and how well you perform in these sports. For example, if you play tennis, when you practice more and improve your skills, you'll swing more at the ball with greater intensity.

If you're not really in area of concern medically, and I'm guessing you're not, then it's a matter of whether your training supports your life. If you feel like you're gassing out in your judo practice, you might want to build your aerobic base.

My gut feeling is, your training is keeping you in good shape and well-rounded in both strength and conditioning, and that includes heart health. When doing Group III activities, your cardiovascular benefit will depend on how hard you work and how well you perform in these sports.

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For example, if you play tennis, when you practice more and improve your skills, you'll swing more at the ball with greater intensity. If someone had a lot of health issues as mentioned above they might not want to rely upon this entirely, but that's best discussed with their doctor.

If you feel like you're gassing out in your judo practice, you might want to build your aerobic base. My gut feeling is, your training is keeping you in good shape and well-rounded in both strength and conditioning, and that includes heart health.

If someone had a lot of health issues as mentioned above they might not want to rely upon this entirely, but that's best discussed with their doctor. This “level III” cardio training sure sounds a lot like an SAS session (or judo session) to me — if tennis is one of their examples, you certainly are not constantly moving during a tennis match — lots of start and stop.

The average Joe (who is a couch potato) thinks that cardio is just levels I and II cardio and forgets about level III. Indeed, no family history of heart problems. My dad used to do human flags, pistols and chin ups back in the proverbial day, and he still lifts weights daily at the gym and is very strong for his age of 76.

Level 6 Valued Member Team Leader Certified Instructor Cardio and aerobic training are NOT the same, although many people mistakenly use them interchangeably.

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We all know that kettle bell training can be used to benefit the aerobic system, so there is no question there. Producing training adaptations for the heart (cardiac muscle) directly is not interchangeable with adaptations to the aerobic system. For example, the most common protocol to increase the size of the left ventricle of the heart is 30-90 minutes of light continuous activity with the heart rate typically 120-150 BPM; this is commonly known as the “cardiac output method” of training.

If the heart is beating too fast then it doesn't have time to fill the ventricle sufficiently. Likewise, if there is too much resistance in the muscles, then the correlated vasoconstriction can result in reduced the blood flow back into the heart, again reducing the amount of stretch the ventricle gets.

This is why for the cardiac output method you typically need activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc. From that perspective... the 10 minutes (give or take) of swings in SAS do not constitute cardio when viewed through my lens.

It may all come down to semantics, definitions, individual perspectives, and training purposes. Cardio and aerobic training are NOT the same, although many people mistakenly use them interchangeably.

Producing training adaptations for the heart (cardiac muscle) directly is not interchangeable with adaptations to the aerobic system. For example, the most common protocol to increase the size of the left ventricle of the heart is 30-90 minutes of light continuous activity with the heart rate typically 120-150 BPM; this is commonly known as the “cardiac output method” of training. If the heart is beating too fast then it doesn't have time to fill the ventricle sufficiently.

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Likewise, if there is too much resistance in the muscles, then the correlated vasoconstriction can result in reduced the blood flow back into the heart, again reducing the amount of stretch the ventricle gets. This is why for the cardiac output method you typically need activities like walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.

It may all come down to semantics, definitions, individual perspectives, and training purposes. @offwidth Agreed! I really like characterizing training based on the predominant energy system used (galactic, glycolysis, aerobic).

That way when someone asks you if kettle bells swing are cardio or power or strength endurance... you say “Yes.” I find when I'm getting in the weeds too deep, I just need to focus on doing the work and listen to my body.

Sources
1 livehealthy.chron.com - https://livehealthy.chron.com/kettlebell-swing-good-cardio-5437.html
2 www.marathon-crossfit.com - http://www.marathon-crossfit.com/blog/can-kettlebell-swings-replace-cardio-article
3 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/are-kettlebell-workouts-cardio-or-strength/
4 greatist.com - https://greatist.com/fitness/kettlebell-exercises-cardio-moves-that-arent-just-swings
5 www.yourtrainerpaige.com - http://www.yourtrainerpaige.com/2015/03/why-power-exercises-should-not-be-performed-for-cardio/
6 kettlebellsworkouts.com - https://kettlebellsworkouts.com/kettlebell-cardio-workouts/
7 www.menshealth.com - https://www.menshealth.com/fitness/a33011090/kettlebell-swing-workout/
8 www.strongfirst.com - https://www.strongfirst.com/community/threads/how-are-kettlebell-swings-not-cardio.11847/